How to Start a Tea business – {Cafe or Online Tea Business}

How to Start a Tea business – {Cafe or Online Tea Business}

Tea (chai) is undoubtedly one of the most popular beverages all over the world. After water, it is the only beverage that is a preferred choice of the masses because of a myriad range of healthy and sugar-free forms it can be available in. As a result, a large number of people are starting tea business around the globe are gaining prominence.

Amongst the list of top 5 countries in the world that rank in tea production are China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey. In fact, in the year 2016, Turkey was the largest tea consuming country in the world, with a per capita consumption of around 6.96 pounds per year, followed by Ireland, United Kingdom, Russia, and Morocco.

Tea is available at varying rates everywhere, with prices ranging from INR 50 per kg to as much as INR 2 Lakh per kg, depending on the existing market rate. If you are amongst the ones looking forward to start a tea business in your chosen location, you can do it in three ways:

  • A) Farming
  • B) Online Tea Business or Wholesale Business
  • C) Café or Tea Shop Business

Let us now discuss these 3 types of tea businesses in detail step by step. However, I would suggest that you go through our article ‘How to Start a Startup’ along with this article, in order to gain more insights about some basic steps like raising the initial capital, series of funding, making business plans etc

A) Farming

The first method of doing a tea business is ‘growing your own tea’. For this method, you need to own a land (either rent or purchase) where you can hire farmers who, in turn, can grow different tea blends for you of your choice. Once your land is harvested, you can then take your tea to the market and sell them in bulk to the wholesale market. Let us discuss in detail the steps involved in this kind of business.

  1. Plantation

Tea begins as a plant named Camellia sinensis. Its seeds are produced in seed baries (orchards) where different farming techniques are employed to produce different varieties of teas that are unique in their taste, color and scent. These techniques also depend on the type of tea whether it is CTC, blended, ginger, green or any other type. One thing to keep in mind is that its plants grow best in hilly regions that are rich in acidic soil and heavy rainfall so choosing land in these regions is a prerequisite. In these areas, step farming is practiced to prevent water logging that can stagnate the growth of plants. Its leaves can then be picked by hand or by machines.

  1. Adding Manures, Nutrients, and Fertilizers

The right amount of fertilizers and manures need to be added to the soil to constantly replenish the soil that gets devoid of essential nutrients at the time of harvest. A specific annual application of the balanced dose of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Potash) is needed to harvest the maximum crop. Mature trees require NPK ratio of 2:1:2 @100 kg/N/ha/ year in spring. Also, 30-40% sunlight should reach the ground in a diffused manner. The right time of manuring should also be taken into consideration which is ideally the first rain in spring.

  1. Harvesting

Once nutrients and fertilizers are added, it is time to harvest the reap the crop. There are primarily 2 harvests seasons throughout the year, the ‘first flush’ in early spring and the ‘second flush’ in the summer season. Farmers keep the tea plant in the early stage of growth with constant pruning and pick only 2 leaves and a bud from the top of the plants. The stash is then taken to the factory located right on the plantation to allow immediate oxidation after which these leaves are further processed in the form that is available to us.

  1. Selling

Ultimately, the tea is then packaged, sealed and ready to be dispatched to the market. You can either sell it on wholesale to a huge market or to different shop owners, depending upon the type and its potential.

B) Online Tea Business or Wholesale Business

The next method exempts a tea businessman from doing his own farming. Instead, he ties up with various tea estates to procure different tea blends depending on the consumers’ preferences, e.g CTC tea or premium ones. The blends are then sold on various platforms like e-commerce players, cafes, shops, wholesale market and to end consumers. One example of this business model is Udyan Tea. Let us go through the steps involved in this type of business:

  1. Tie Ups with Estate Farms

Since you would not have to own a land for farming, establish settlements with different farms to procure the tea leaves grown on their respective farms. This can be across varied geographical locations with different planting techniques employed at each location.

  1. Research and Development

Employ an extensive research and development team to make different blends, depending upon the needs of the consumers. Some of the common blends available are CTC (Crushed, Torn apart and curled leaves), black, green, ginger and several others. Usually, the infusion of perfect blends takes months of research and also required a dedicated tasting team to facilitate the process.

  1. Branding and Marketing

Depending on whether you are selling to wholesale market or to shop owners or directly to customers by an online platform, branding strategy needs to be decided. For wholesale distribution, branding can be surpassed as the only minimum form of packaging can suffice. However, for selling to the shop owners and cafes, packaging and branding need to be done to reflect the uniqueness of your brand. You can advertise your product on your website, or on various social media platforms to create awareness. If you are choosing online medium as the main medium then you should invest on Facebook ads and Google ads. These 2 are the biggest players in today’s date for advertisement and for showcasing your brand to a bigger audience.

  1. Selling

Once your tea leaves are ready, you can ship your packages from the plantation factory, thereby collaborating with a reliable logistics company. Ultimately, you can sell your packages to a wholesale market, individual shop owners or to various urban cafes who are into serving to end consumers.

But if you are selling via an online medium, you need to take care of following things:

  • The home page of your website should represent what exactly you are doing.
  • Showcase your each tea product properly, with its description, price, delivery time, etc.
  • Get associated with some good logistic company that can supply your products on time. in the beginning, you can even choose local courier services like First Flight, DTDC etc.
  • Start selling from a small geographical area and attain respected figure in that area and then move to another city.

C) Café or Tea Shop Business

The last method involving a tea business is to open tea cafes or shop. These cafes usually buy different blends from various tea producers and source them into their cafes. Tea is prepared in house and served to the guests. The focus is also made to provide them with a good ambiance. A lot of cafes have come up over the years like Chai Point, Chaayos, Chai Thela in India, Honest Tea in the USA and David’s Tea in Canada. Let us discuss some steps to start a tea café that can give you some great insights into a successful tea business in India or elsewhere.

  1. Choosing a location

Once you have sourced your tea, the next thing to keep in mind is choosing an appropriate location to set up your café or shop. Various factors need to be analyzed in doing this like proximity to city Centre and offices, crowded places, purchasing capacity of the people in that region, parking space, visibility, road connectivity and so on. For standalone cafes or for chains both, rent variables need to be considered too.

  1. Procurement

After the café location is finalized, next step is to procure the right kind of machinery into your café space. Keeping in mind your budget and the kind of funding involved, choice of equipment can be made. Procuring freshly brewed tea blends from various plantations also needs to be done. Once the tea is ready, it can be shipped to the café location, or to the café headquarters via a collaborated courier partner.

  1. Price Positioning

Finalizing the menu is the next important thing where you need to select the right pricing range of various tea options that are going to be served. Prices also need to be considered for snacks and combos, depending on what is there on the menu. Set price according to the market, make combo offers to increase the bill of each plate.

  1. Branding and Marketing

Word of mouth advertising is a viable form of marketing for small cafes while some of them opt for the website and social media promotions as well. Keeping track of consumer feedback in the form of surveys and feedback form also gives the café owners the scope of further improvisations, if needed.

  1. Customer Service

Customer service remains at the top of all café experiences and a well-efficient team of servers and tea makers is a must for that. Investing in training programs for the team is another prerequisite that needs to be taken into account. To give an optimum drinking experience to guests, many café owners include different amenities to keep the guests entertained. Creating a small book section for avid readers, soothing music, premium décor are some of the amenities that can uplift the entire drinking experience.

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54 Comments on “How to Start a Tea business – {Cafe or Online Tea Business}

  • · Edit

    Want to start a business for a tea stall ,from where do I find people in guwahati assam for making different kinds of tea

  • Hi Dimpi,

    I am currently in a planning phase of my tea business. Gathering information from people, competition information etc and next will be talking to suppliers. As you mentioned, you have a tea business in Assam. Can we connect sometime?

  • · Edit

    Hi am planning to open my own chai/tea cafes in hyderabad. I need some help from the existing tea business owners in terms of financial planning, staffing, procurement and profitability of the business.

  • · Edit

    I need to start the tea stall or coffee shop in a small centre. At present I am working with some automobile company as a service manager. I don’t have the experience in selling tea/ coffee , I need complete details and how much cost will involved in this business.

    • Cost will depend on your location, your business model, and on your marketing strategy. You can read stories of Chaayos, Chai Point, Chai Thela etc to learn how they people started, I have already published their stories on the website.

  • I would like to start the wholesale tea business, I am doing survey right now through online, I have already contact with direct manufacture, I just went over there to the survey and bring the sample too. They agreed to supply large quantity, I checked verity of quality, it was really good with less price as well.

    I would like to supply into allover India, Please advice me for the right path to supply.

  • · Edit

    Hi am planning to open my own chai/tea cafes in mumbaiI need some help from the existing tea business owners in terms of financial planning, staffing, procurement and profitability of the business.

      • Dear Mr.Tanwar,
        I am thinking of starting a tea shop along with selling loose tea in packets under own brand. I have experience in running the restaurant. I am from Kerala. I need your advice on finding cheap and good quality tea supplier from Assam and logistics options.

        • Hi Najeeb,
          To judge the quality you will need a tea taster. You can look for them on job portals or on Linkedin. Then ask for sample and price form different farms. Then decide which option suits you the best.
          As per my experience, you need not to worry about the logistics, as you are a buyer in this case so most probably tea farm owners will deliver the tea to you.
          If that is not happening then you need to decide the mode of transportation as per your tea quantity.

          PS- Don’t worry much about logistics, worry about quality and sales.

        • Dear Najeeb,

          I am also from Kerala, right now am in Muscat, interested to launch a new tea café brand. If you are interested we could discuss.

  • · Edit

    Hi everyone ,

    I am from Chattisgarh (India). Right now i am working in Gurgaon in a MNC but i want to start a tea cafe business with a small medium investment in my home town Chattisgarh capital city Raipur or Bilaspur, like others company already doing in Indian state i.e chaayos, Tea Point. Can any one suggest and advice me regarding this in detail.

  • · Edit

    Thanks a lot Mr. Lokesh for reply, my queries are below:-
    1) Market scope of tea cafe in Chhattisgarh. means I want to open a shop where I will sell just a good quality of tea hygienically and little bit some snacks.
    2) Market survey or research in Chhattisgarh for tea cafe if you have, means scope of this business.
    3) Investment to start such type of business.
    4) Profitability, as I already said I am working in a MNC company with good package so I have to leave and start this business.
    5) What precautions and step need to take before start this business.

    • 1. That you need to do yourself. In brief for this you have to figure out the market size of targeted market and have to understand the profitability according to that. (it’s a long process so read on internet, if you want me to help you personally I will charge for it.)

      2. Usually analytic companies never do research for such a small region on their own but yeah if you want then to do this you need to connect analytic companies, I can connect you with such companies if you want.

      3. There is great variety in tea business. If you talk about Chaayos they spend a lot on their each cafe while on the other side Chai Thella spend really less. So if want to be like Chaaayos then take a budget of approx Rs30-50 lakhs depending on location. If want to be like Chai Thella Rs6-10lakh is sufficient depending on location.

      4. With this question I can see that you are not so much passionate about this business idea. If you are purely working on an idea just for profits then it’s better to believe on data rather then my words. But I always suggest everyone never start a startup just for the sake of money, if you are purely looking for profit then start traditional business or any wholesale business. You can really earn a great amount of money in traditional businesses. Join any startup if you enjoy the journey as much as destination. For more on this you can read my this posts about becoming entrepreneur

      5. As everything cannot be mentioned in a brief comment. But if you want to avoid major problems then make a Crystal Clear Roadmap before starting your business.

  • I have different types of Himalayan Tea begs like Cordyceps tea bag and Tulsi tea bag and Lemongrass oil. I am from Bhutan. Contact me if anybody need help.

  • Hello Friends
    I want to start an online green teas business.
    Please share your inputs.
    What is the scope? What’s the investment?
    Pro’s and cons
    Need the contact details of the manufacturers of green teas units preferably from India.

    • Talk to every tea company to give you dealership of their respective companies. When you do so then companies will define your region for sales. Then all the shopkeepers of that area will be liable to buy from you.

  • · Edit

    Hello Mr. Tanwar,
    Can you kindly suggest some courses/programs in tea blending, in Mumbai or Thane area?
    Also of tea sommelier?


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